To commemorate 100 years of Indian library and information science journals and 60 years of Annals of Library and Information Studies published by CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR-NISCAIR), a seminar on ‘Indian Library and Information Science Journals: Problem & Prospects” was organised by CSIR-NISCAIR on 23 April 2014 in collaboration with SAARC Documentation Centre and Society for Information Science.
Annals of Library and Information Studies which completed 60 years of publication in 2013 is the oldest surviving English language primary library and information science journal published from India. The journal was launched in 1954 by the erstwhile Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC) as Annals of Library Science with the Father of Indian Library Science, Dr. S R Ranganathan as its Founder-Editor. In ten years that he was Editor, he wrote as many as 87 research articles for the journal. In 1964, the journal was renamed as Annals of Library Science and Documentation and in 2001, it was given its current name, Annals of Library and Information Studies.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the seminar, Ms. Deeksha Bist, Acting Director, CSIR-NISCAIR mentioned that despite the 100 years history of Indian LIS journals, it needs to be introspected as to why no Indian LIS journal is covered in the Journal Citation Reports of Web of Knowledge and consequently do not have an impact factor. She said that the journal editors should focus on enhancing the quality and visibility of the LIS journals.
Noted library and information science author and editor, Prof. B K Sen, the Chief Guest of the inaugural function launched the Annals of Library and Information Studies archives in the open access domain. With the launch, all the issues of the journal going back to 1954, Volume 1, Issue 1 are now available online.
In his inaugural address, Prof. B K Sen gave a brief history of Indian LIS journals giving decade-wise statistical details about the journals. He mentioned that several library and information science journals had ceased to exist and most of the Indian LIS journals presently being published fall behind there publishing schedules. Prof. Sen expressed concerns on the mushrooming of open access LIS journals in the recent years as many of the journals lacked even the basic quality standards.
The seminar was attended by 57 delegates who included editors, authors and researchers.
The Editors Speak session was chaired by Prof. C P Vashisth, Editor, Library Herald. Dr. Ashok Kumar, Associate Editor-in-Chief, DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology, Prof. S M Shafi, Editor, Trends in Information Management, Dr. P K Bhattacharya, Editor, World Digital Libraries, Dr. Sujit Bhattacharya, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Scientometric Research, Prof. Pijushkanti Panigrahi, Associate Editor, IASLIC Bulletin, Dr. M Madhusudhan, Journal of Library and Information Science and Dr. G. Mahesh, Editor, Annals of Library and Information Studies spoke during the session. Each Editor gave a brief account about the journal that they edited and highlighted the issues faced by them. The Editors were concerned about the lack of quality in the articles being submitted to the journals. The prevailing peer review process including the paid vs. free peer review process, coverage of journals in abstracting and indexing databases and the impact factor were discussed.
The Authors Speak session was chaired by Dr. K C Garg, Former Chief Scientist, CSIR-NISTADS. In his opening remarks, the Chairman said that the LIS research process has come a long way in the last many decades. Specifically highlighting scientometric research, he said that many of the current papers merely tabulated readily available data from citation databases without proper interpretation of the data. Other authors who spoke at the session were Prof. Jaideep Sharma, Professor, DLIS, IGNOU and Dr. S M Pujar, Deputy Librarian, IGIDR, Mumbai, Dr. V K J Jeevan, Deputy Librarian, IGNOU and Dr. Rabisankar Giri, IG Delhi Technological University for Women.
The authors narrated their experiences of submitting and getting articles published in Indian and foreign journals. The emergence and growth of open access journals based on a case study of DOAJ indexed journals was discussed. Authors felt that large majority of the Indian LIS journals were broad-based and that it is about time to have quality journals in focussed areas.
The seminar ended with a panel discussion on “The rise of Indian LIS journals: Quantity vs Quality”. Prof. B K Sen chaired the panel discussion and the panellists were Prof. Jagtar Singh, Professor and Head, Punjabi University, Patiala, Prof. Dinesh K Gupta, Professor, VM Open University, Kota and Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, Director, Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA). The panel was concerned about the quality of the Indian LIS journals and agreed that one of the major problems was a basic one which has to do with the LIS research in India in general. The panel felt that there was a need to focus on teaching how to conceptualise research problems and how to write research papers. The roles of the editorial boards in furthering the quality of journals were also discussed based on the comparison of editorial boards of Indian and foreign LIS journals. Panellists felt that open review of manuscripts and more coordination among editors should enable enhancing the quality of journals. The engaging discussions had several delegates probing the panellists on many issues.
The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks. It was decided to bring out the September 2014 issues of Annals of Library Information Studies as a special issue on the seminar theme.
Recommendations of the seminar
- Indian LIS journal editors should work towards improving the quality and visibility of the journals.
- Journal editors may look at including non-English language or Indian language papers in the journals.
- Editorial Boards of journals should play a meaningful and active role.
- Journal editors should strive to bring out the journals on schedule.
- The journal editors may explore the possibility of open peer review system.
- To have coordination among the journal editors, an Indian LIS Journals Editors Guild may be formed.
- There should be incentives to reviewers (payments or as API points) so that the review process is expedited in a faster manner.
- There should be author workshops to encourage and motivate young authors.
- Scholarly writing skills should be inculcated to students as part of the MLIS programme.
- There is a need for specialized journals in LIS.
- There should be FAQ pages on journal websites that answers general author queries.
- Journals should indicate timelines in papers and strive to maintain publishing papers based on date of receipt of articles.